Gabe Kapler was fired as manager by the San Francisco Giants

In a somewhat surprising move — at a somewhat surprising time with only three games remaining in their season — the San Francisco Giants announced Friday the firing of manager Gabe Kapler. Kapler led the team before the 2020 season and the Giants made the postseason once in his four seasons.

Kapler became the face of a widely scrutinized and sometimes praised organizational approach that included dogged commitment to platoons, a large coaching staff and a willingness to take on reclamation projects. But even as many players regained their footing in San Francisco, the Giants as a whole struggled to break into the upper echelons of their own league, let alone the MLB.

This season, the Giants until recently held on to the top of the National League wild card race, even as their offense ranked 25th in OPS in the majors this season, only better than teams that started the year with by far had begun with lower offensive expectations. And lately, the intellectual, player-friendly approach of Kapler and Co. — an approach that made them look Einsteinian as they piled up 107 wins in 2021 — no longer seemed to be cutting it.

By mid-August, Giants owner Charles Johnson seemed unwilling to make big changes, particularly during the season. But after leader Logan Webb told reporters last week, “We need to make some big changes here to create that winning culture,” general manager Farhan Zaidi conspicuously avoided making a long-term commitment to Kapler when asked on KNBR radio Thursday.

“We have to rethink everything,” he said. Kapler was out on Friday evening.

Kapler isn’t the only person in the Giants organization who had a chance to make a change this season. Zaidi is hardly to blame for one of the sport’s most respected, well-attended and financially flexible franchises falling short in recent years.

In recent years, the Giants’ offseasons have become memorable for what the team didn’t contribute rather than what it did. Although they ultimately appeared prescient when they withdrew Carlos Correa from his contract for health reasons (which earned them heavy criticism until the New York Mets did the same), the Giants’ inability to poach Aaron Judge from the New York Yankees left them without one clear star.

The Giants were still very relevant during Kapler’s tenure. They continue to show their ability to help failed starters regain their value, but after helping Kevin Gausman find his way, they didn’t sign him long-term to capitalize on the rebuild. And short-term deals to hitters in similar situations, like Joc Pederson and Michael Conforto this year, didn’t provide the intended upside.

“After making this recommendation to the owners and receiving their approval, I met with Gabe to inform him of our decision,” Zaidi said in a statement. “In his tenure as Giants manager, Gabe led our team through an unprecedented pandemic in 2020 and a franchise-record 107 wins and postseason berths in 2021. He was dedicated and passionate in his efforts to support the Sans’ performance on the season “Francisco Giants, and I have great respect for him as a colleague and friend.”

Kapler, who was named NL Manager of the Year in 2021, will enter the offseason as an intriguing managerial or perhaps even front office option as many teams around the league covet a change in direction. The 48-year-old served as director of player development for the Los Angeles Dodgers before managing the Philadelphia Phillies from 2018-19. He’s considered a different kind of baseball thinker, which leads to a different kind of baseball resume. It seems unlikely that will end here. Gabe Kapler was fired as manager by the San Francisco Giants

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